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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Running for My Life

" The miracle isn't that I finished."  " The miracle is that I had the courage to start."-  John Bingham

I have several vivid memories from grade school.  The first one is I spent most of my grade school life with perpetually skinned knees. I was always falling which is part of the CMT.  Good thing pants for girls were not allowed expect to wear under your dress as you walked to school in winter. What a nice look that was.

The second memory was running relay races. We were split into groups of 5-6 kids, lined up and when the whistle blew, you ran to some point, turned around and ran back, tagged the next person on your team and repeated.  The first team to get all their runner through won. I have vivid memories of being screamed at because "I was so slow". One kid would get right up in my face and scream at me.  I still hear him and use it to motivate me when I run. I bet he is sitting on a sofa somewhere with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other. He would have to catch me now to yell at me. It's a miracle I ran  another step after that gym class activity.

As if that trauma wasn't enough there was the game "Run for Your Life".  I think it was the particular invention of Mr. Oyler.  I loved and feared him.  I liked him so much I had him for 4th, 6th and 7th grade.  In my kid memories he was huge. Red hair, red  beard, and a big stocky guy who look like he played foot ball in college.  He had a yard stick wrapped in blue tape he used to wield discipline.  He once cracked that stick on his glass desk top and shattered it.   He thought nothing about grabbing a kid out of line, lifting him off the ground, putting him at eye level, and loudly ask them "What are you doing".   This was the 60's and private school.  Not the kind of wimpy education kids get today.

Anyway "Run for Your Life" was a game Mr. Olyer made us play in gym class and it went like this.  The massive Mr. Olyer would stand at center court of our gym basketball court. In his massive hands he held a red rubber playground ball. The four corners of the gym were "safe" zones. The whole class started at the corner that was the gym entrance.  When he blew his whistle, you were fair game. You had to run to the next safe zone.  As you passed he would try and pick you off with the red rubber play ground ball. When you were hit you were out. He seemed to take sadistic pleasure in picking us off one by one. The last one standing won.  

We were like gazelles being hunted. He was the prediator and we were the prey.  The weak and the slow were picked off first. Let me tell you I think I still have sting marks and can still feel the terror of the whistle blowing.  The strategy was to try and be in the crowd for protection.  It is amazing I ever ran a step after being subjected to running for my life. The game has now been banned except to torture terrorists.

I played the game many times over 4 years because in addition to being a grade level teacher, Mr. Olyer was also the gym teacher.  I had gym at least 3 times per week. Never knew when "Run for Your Life"  or some similar torture was on the agenda. It's no wonder when I had a choice in high school I dropped gym. It is a miracle I ever ran again.

That gym was also the source of my best memory. We also played wiffle ball. Plastic ball, plastic bat and set up inside the same gym. I was no better at wiffle ball than anything else athletic. But one day I hit a home run off of Mr. Oyler.  Yup, hit the corner doors which was an automatic home run. I got to touch'em all.

So sometimes life is like that. Sometimes you feel like you're running for your life. Sometimes you feel the sting of getting hit. Other times you're rounding third and headed for home. You just have to stay in there and keep swinging.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Running, triathlons, impaired athlete, paratriathlon, USAT, running and CMT


  1. Hi Chris

    I´m Alvaro Montoya from Colombia ,I´m 43 and have CMT since 11, I´m a runner to , my next race is 15K in May 31st/15 , actually i´m working in my next two Targets 21k Bogota (July26th /15) and San Diego Marathon April/ 16

    I´m really excited to have found your blog

  2. Woulld love to have you join us. Join at or at my site It is free to join, then I can add you to our facebook group. We have running singlets, there is a cost for those.